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Tuesday, 14 March, 2017 - 11:00
Industry news


A company was recently fined $120,000 in the Townsville Magistrates Court after a worker sustained fatal head injuries when he was crushed between a tank and a forklift.

Gough Industries Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching its obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to ensure its workers were not exposed to risk.

On 20 February 2015, Luke Summers and two of his workmates were moving a large polyethylene cylindrical tank with two forklifts.

A dual lift is generally done with a third person, but on this occasion the third worker left the area during the move.

Summers was out of eyesight from his other workmate, who was operating one of the forklifts. The 24-year-old was between the tank and second forklift when the load shifted, crushing him to death.

Just a week later, another Townsville company faced the same court for a sentence hearing into the death of Phyliss Batchler.

On 14 February 2015, Batchler was walking along the existing pathway on an aged care facility when the wheel of her walker went over the edge of the excavated side, causing her to fall.

She sustained serious neck and pelvis injuries and died in hospital 20 days later from complications.

The failure to control safety risks around concrete works cost the elderly woman dearly and BJ Morrow Concreting a $120,000 fine.

The Charters Towers Regional Council was also fined $170,000 over the death of a worker fatally struck by a truck while doing roadworks.

In the Townsville Magistrates Court, the regional council was found guilty of failing to develop adequate traffic management procedures, failing to develop adequate systems of safe work for pedestrians and moving plant, and failing to develop and monitor safe procedures for reversing plant and interaction with pedestrians.

During the hearing, details emerged about a group of four council workers doing minor roadworks on the Flinders Highway at Charters Towers in November 2013.

At the end of the job, one worker was asked to reverse a truck down the stretch of road to compact the ground.

At the same time, the other workers were conducting various tasks. Wayne Sherwin, an experienced council worker, was picking up brooms and walking across the road site when the truck began reversing.

The driver didn’t see Sherwin and continued to reverse, striking Sherwin. Although there were risk assessments relating to other matters, there was no safety system for reversing plant.

The court found no traffic management plan restricting the movement of workers while the trucks were reversing, no spotter who could’ve warned Mr Sherwin or alerted the driver to the presence of a pedestrian.

Further, an exclusion zone could have easily been implemented, but was not. Charters Towers Regional Council has filed an appeal against its conviction and sentence.